“It’s happened again. West Ham United, it’s happened again.”
That was the chant from the home crowd at White Hart Lane after West Ham once again fell to Spurs late in a match. It looked destined to end as a frustrating loss for Tottenham, but two goals from Harry Kane in the last few minutes flipped the script to a 3-2 win for the Lilywhites.
In one way today was a sad day. Spurs and one of their fiercest rivals met at White Hart Lane for probably the last time. Our legendary ground will never host another classic between North London and East London.
In another way it was a wonderful day. Results around the top of the table have gone well, and this victory puts Tottenham just one point off the Top 4. It’s a massive win for Mauricio Pochettino’s side that also ends a run of four straight draws in the Premier League.
Pochettino had some surprises in store with his team selection. Spurs lined up in a 4-4-2 diamond system, and Harry Winks was given his first ever Premier League start. Harry Kane and Vincent Janssen also started together at striker.
After an uneven opening period, West Ham opened the scoring on 24 minutes through Michail Antonio. Antonio capped off a hectic sequence on a corner kick by heading a bouncing ball into the net from point blank range.
The first half was frustrating, but the beginning of the second half brought a dream-come-true moment for Harry Winks. The 20-year-old made the most of his opportunity when he saw the ball spurt to him after Vincent Janssen had a shot saved by Darren Randolph. He did just enough to get it by the Irish keeper, and then he ran over to Pochettino to celebrate in what was an emotional scene.
It was a beautiful moment, but Spurs would be pegged back again.
Mike Dean had a controversial and influential performance, striking first just 15 minutes after Winks’ goal. He gave West Ham a penalty when Winston Reid went down in the box on a free-kick with Janssen’s hand on the center-back’s shoulder. Manuel Lanzini converted to give the lead back to Slaven Bilic’s men.
It was poor from Janssen, but contact like that happens on set-pieces all the time and really isn’t called consistently.
Spurs desperately pressed for an equalizer, and thus left some openings at the back. West Ham came close a few times but couldn’t capitalize, and eventually paid the price.
Son Heung-min made an impact off the bench in the 89th minute as he kept a ball in the box alive and got a cross towards the middle. It surprisingly got past Randolph and a couple West Ham defenders and eventually fell to Harry Kane. Spurs’ now fully-fit striker could make no mistake with his tap-in.
A draw would’ve been a bit of relief for Tottenham after going behind twice, but Son, Kane, and Mike Dean weren’t done yet.
The Korean international again kept a ball alive in the box. This time he was brought down by Havard Nordtveit after trying to change direction. Dean pointed to the spot.
Kane stepped up, finished the penalty, and won the game with his 17th goal in 16 London derbies. Recently back from an ankle injury, Kane is also now up to 5 goals this season in the league.
A healthy and in-form Kane is bad enough for Spurs’ opponents, but now teams have to deal with another Harry as well. This start and performance showed that Winks has what it takes to play at this level, and I’m sure we’ll be seeing a lot more of him now.
The win was crucial for a Spurs team that needed momentum ahead of a tough week. Big matches loom against Monaco and Chelsea. This late comeback may be the spark that they need to push on in England and in Europe.
It almost wasn’t to be, but Tottenham’s late surge means it goes down in history as another thrilling derby win at White Hart Lane.